A champion will rise: Previewing the 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series finale
Epic. That’s really the only way to describe the competition and action seen so far in the F1 New Balance Esports Pro Series 2018. And yet, like all good things, it must come to an end. That’s where the third and final live event comes in…
We still have four races to run, and two championships to decide at London’s GFinity Esports Arena on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November, with nine teams and a 26-strong roster of drivers once again ready to do battle on F1 2018, the official F1 video game developed by Codemasters.
THE CHALLENGE AHEAD
The final quartet of races are split evenly across two days, with the seventh race of the championship – around Germany’s Hockenheim circuit – taking place on Friday, followed by race eight around Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.
Practice and qualifying for the final two races will then take place, meaning Saturday’s live event will cut straight to the chase, focusing on the last two races of the Pro Series.
Those two races in question will take place around Circuit of the Americas (USA), and Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi), the latter of which played host to the finale in 2017. After a daring last-lap scrap with Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, Brendon Leigh was crowned the inaugural F1 Esports drivers’ champion that year – and though the competition may be a little different in 2018, the Briton has a very good chance of defending his crown…
THE FORM BOOK
Once again, Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports driver Brendon Leigh is the man to beat, after taking victory in four of the six races so far. His victories in Melbourne, Shanghai and Britain, as well as a controversial victory in France, have propelled him to the top of the standings, with a healthy 43-point lead over chief title rival Frederik Rasmussen.
Rasmussen famously overhauled Leigh on the line in Baku, snatching victory with metres to spare as the pair duelled along Baku City Circuit’s monster straight. The Dane has been extremely consistent, finishing on the podium in the last four races, and is Leigh’s closest competitor.
That is not to discount Mercedes AMG Petronas Esports’ other driver, Daniel Bereznay, however. He too has shone through with consistent driving, scoring points at all but one race of the Pro Series, and cruising to victory at the most recent race in Belgium, meaning he has good momentum to bring through to the final races and challenge his Silver Arrows team mate.
Runner-up in 2017, Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, was well in the mix at the second live show, with his Hype Energy eForce India teammate Marcel Keifer also impressing, racking up his second podium of the series.
Joni Tormala also showed what he was made of, challenging Bereznay for victory in Belgium, and coming away with a podium for Red Bull Esports. All will be bringing their A-game in the final four races – and, while for some the thought of fighting for the championship is a little distant, the challenge of setting the DHL Fastest Lap Award is still very much a free-for-all, adding an extra layer of complexity to proceedings.
With three drivers sharing all six victories between them so far, it is no great surprise that their respective teams lead the way in the other standings table. Mercedes are out ahead on 208, with Toro Rosso the only other team to break into triple digits. Though the gap to the leaders is a mighty 71 points, with four races to go, and double-points on offer at the final race in Abu Dhabi, it really is all still to play for…
Saturday’s pair of races in the USA and Abu Dhabi will be broadcast live on the official F1 Facebook page from 1900 GMT, and on selected TV networks around the world. And don’t be late – your only chance to catch highlights from races seven and eight will be in Saturday’s live show, so make sure you set those alarms to avoid missing any of the gripping action.
EVENT THREE START TIMES:
Race Seven: Fri 16 Oct, 1100 GMT – Hockenheim Circuit
Race Eight: Fri 16 Oct, 1440 GMT – Marina Bay Street Circuit
Race Nine: Sat 17 Oct, 1925 GMT – Circuit of the Americas (Broadcast live)
Race Ten: Sat 17 Oct, 2010 GMT- Yas Marina Circuit (Broadcast live)
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